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Our 40 Favorite Things to do in Cancun, Mexico

Our 40 Favorite Things to do in Cancun, Mexico

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If you’re looking for the best things to do in Cancun, then you’ve come to the right place!

Cancun, Mexico will always hold a special place in my heart. Since I was only a few feet tall, I have been coming on regular trips with my family to explore this beautiful area and overindulge at all-inclusive resorts. Cancun may be touristy, but I just can’t get enough!

However, the trick to planning your itinerary to Cancun is picking only the best activities. Seriously, it can get overwhelming.

Below, I’ve sifted out the not so amazing activities in Cancun to come up with the only list you’ll need to plan your trip.

Enjoy!

Don’t have time to read the full article? Cancun is a fun place to visit over and over (and I have), and some of my favorite things to do are:

  1. Take a sailing trip where you’ll have the chance to snorkel and see all sorts of sea life
  2. Have a beach day – We love Playa Langosta for a relaxing day in tranquil, shallow waters
  3. Explore an underwater art museum on this snorkel adventure
  4. Swim in underground caves in the Rio Secreto Nature Reserve
  5. Have fun at Ventura Park – an amusement park great for kids and adults
Table Of Contents
  1. The BEST Things to do in Canun, Mexico
  2. Where to Eat in Cancun
  3. Where to Stay in Cancun
  4. Thanks for reading!
  5. Why We Book Tours with Viator
  6. Renting a Car in Mexico

The BEST Things to do in Canun, Mexico

1. Swim with whale sharks 

Swimming with Whale sharks in Mexico
There is no way to describe this experience – you have to do it once!

When traveling to Cancun, you always hear about its amazing nightlife, crystal-clear waters, white-sand beaches, and of course, delicious margaritas. But have you ever heard about swimming with sharks in Cancun? More specifically, whale sharks. 

Although whale sharks aren’t technically sharks (they’re actually the largest fish in the world), this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Unfortunately, you won’t find these beautiful creatures swimming in front of Mandala Beach, so you will need a boat ride to reach them. That means that a tour is the only way to go on this adventure!

This full-day whale shark tour picks you up at your hotel, which we found so convinient. The tour includes an expert biologist guide who speaks great English – it’s the perfect way to interact with whale sharks and learn about them!

On top of that, we got a delicious lunch and use of the snorkeling equipment and a life jacket. The best part is that the lunch was served off the coast of Isla Mujeres with magnificent views!

Whale shark season in Cancun runs from the 15th of May until the 17th of September, with the best time being in the middle of that. During that time of the year, the whale sharks gather on the northern coasts of the Yucatan. If you are lucky, you could also catch a glimpse of a Manta ray swimming along with the whale sharks. 

Don’t let their size intimidate you, either. Whale sharks are friendly and harmless to humans; they are on a strict plankton-only diet! 

Be sure to book your whale shark tour in advance here for around $154 USD as spaces are limited!

2. Go on a sailing trip

Bailey sits on the side rail of the Catamaran soaking up the views and sun on a tour from Cancun
Just enjoy the view!
Daniel and Bailey on a sailing trip from Cancun, Mexico
Such a fun way to spend the day!

We all love the beach clubs, but they’re a bit generic, right? A sailing trip is a fantastic alternative to spending your day chilling by the sea. 

Catamaran tours from Cancun are very common and usually involve unlimited drinks, snorkeling, lunch, and fantastic views. Now, you can book these through your resort if you wish, however, be prepared to pay a huge premium. Back in 2019, I paid over $120 USD for a half-day tour through a resort!

Thankfully, these days there are other options. This specific half-day sailing tour we did offers you the chance to sail out to Isla Mujeres and snorkel with turtles at the same time for almost half the price! Isla Mujeres has breathtaking azure waters, full of colorful fishes and lots of turtles. Swimming there is like swimming in a pool! It’s one of the best things to do in Mexico.

Did you forget your snorkeling equipment? No worries, snorkeling equipment is included in this tour as well as an open bar and snacks. We also got to take a trip to downtown Isla Mujeres, where we experienced the true Mexican island life and do some shopping!

Overall, I loved the sailing tour, and it was one of the best sailing tours I have done in Mexico (mainly because we got to see turtles). The huge catamaran had lots of space, and the drinks never stop flowing! Plus it only costs $80 USD per person – what a steal! You can book it easily online here!

3. Party! 

Bailey drinks a cocktail at Monkey Buisness in Cancun, Mexico
Monkey Business!
A live band plays at Monkey Buisness in Cancun, Mexico
The live band at Monkey Business!

Cancun is really well-known for its nightlife and amazing clubs and, as I grew up, I found this out very quickly!

Mandala Cancun, Congo Bar, and La Vaquita are all amazing, but without a doubt, the hottest nightspot in Cancun is Coco Bongo. Partying there is nothing short of epic because they, without fail, put on such a fun show (so fun that we’ve dedicated an entire section to it below!).

After Coco Bongo, our favorite spot have a few drinks in the Hotel Zone has to be Monkey Business, which is an awesome restaurant by day turned party bar by night! With fruity shisha, mouthwatering grub, and drinks galore, this playful hot spot brings the party with live music acts that had us dancing all night long (well, at least until 3 am which is when they close!).

And don’t even get me started on the munchies! Nachos, burgers, tacos – you name it, they whip it up fresh right in front of you. My recommendation? Try one of their crave-worthy house or classic cocktails. I had (more than one) of their signature ‘Monkey Business’ cocktails which hit the spot!

If you really want to party, every year from February to March, the city is a hot spot for spring breakers. The party can become quite wild, though. Just make sure to stay safe and keep an eye out for your friends while you enjoy yourselves.

4. Dance the night away at Coco Bongo

A live show at Coco Bongo, Mexico
Coco Bongo is such a performance!
Bailey and her friend take a selfie at Coco Bongo, Mexico
I went on a girl’s night out!

Get ready for a night of total insanityCoco Bongo style! This larger-than-life hotspot is like nothing else, mixing Vegas showmanship with circus flair for one heck of an unforgettable party. One night might include jamming along to classic hits from The Beatles before cheering on stunt-filled battles with 300 Spartan impersonators… It’s enough to make your wildest dreams look totally normal!

Since everybody wants to visit this club, getting in can be a little bit difficult. For that reason, it’s better to book your tickets in advance

Grabbing a gold member advanced ticket allows you to skip the line (which is often a couple of blocks long and can take over an hour to get to the front) and includes a whopping 15 premium drinks. Plus, you’ll actually get a seat for the show (standing for hours on end isn’t always our vibe). It’ll cost you $179 USD for this ticket, but to us, it’s definitely worth it.

If you’re on a stricter budget, you can opt for just a general admission ticket for $93 USD, or a great mid-range option that is general admission with the added bonus of skipping the line for $113 USD. All tickets include an open bar of local drinks as well as snacks like hot dogs.

Coco Bongo is also located right in the heart of the Hotel Zone, so it’s suuuper easy to reach on foot or by taxi. So whether you’re the party guy back home or just fancy turning up the dial to eleven, Coco Bongo is an absolute must-try!

You can check prices and book general admission tickets here, skip the line tickets here, and Gold Member tickets here!

5. Relax at one of Cancun’s best beaches

When staying in Cancun, the first thing you’ll want to do is hit the beach. The best beaches in Cancun are either within walking distance or are just one bus/taxi ride away from the hotel zone.

The beaches do not have opening hours, and all are free, so you can hit the beach from sunrise until sunset! But be warned, I’ve had my fair share of bad sunburns in Mexico!

Our favorite five beaches to check out are:

Playa Chacmool

Bailey on Playa Chacmool in Cancun, Mexico
The perfect beach to relax!

Playa Chacmool is a hidden gem in the heart of the hotel zone. This beach has public showers and a palapa area, all free of charge. This beach is often quiet especially if you stay on the southern end. As you head further north towards Playa Gaviota Azul it can get much busier and a lot more vibrant.

Don’t forget to bring food and drinks with you, there are no vendors by the beach. However, there is an Oxxo (convenience store) at the entrance to the beach which comes in handy!  

Playa Tortugas

Playa Tortugas is not the beach for reading a book. The vibe here is a party, with loud music and lots of people. It can get a bit crowded, so be sure to arrive early.  

With that said, the water here is calm, with only small waves, so it’s a good spot for swimming. You can do some snorkeling or diving around the area in its shallow clear waters.  

There are some food vendors and restaurants along the beach. Get a coconut to refresh yourself from the heat. Most places don’t take credit cards, so be sure to bring some cash.  

You can easily reach Playa Tortugas by taxi or bus from the Hotel Zone in Cancun.

Playa Delfines

Bailey on a swing on Playa Delfines, Cancun, Mexico
The waves are rough…
Playa Delfines Cancun, Mexico
But I love this beach for relaxing in the sand!

Playa Delfines is arguably one of the most popular beaches here. The beach got its name because you can actually spot dolphins from time to time playing in the ocean (“delfines” is Spanish for “dolphin”.)

The beach area is huge here, and it’s also where you’ll find the famous Cancun sign. There are lots of shade (palapas) set up on the beach to hide from the sun, and although the waves can be strong, they have a lifeguard on duty. 

Free public restrooms are available, but there are limited services at this beach. If you arrive early, you can spot gigantic iguanas taking the sun in the morning.  

One thing to note is the seas here are rough, so it’s not advised to swim. That’s why I usually avoid this beach.

Playa Gaviota Azul

Bailey enjoys a walk on Playa Gaviota Azul during sunset in Cancun, Mexico
The sunsets at Playa Gaviota Azul!

Playa Gaviota Azul is one of the busiest beaches in city since it’s right in the heart of the hotel zone. There is no way to get lost, there is a big sign next to the entrance. Next to Mandala beach club, you will locate the beach entrance. 

If you don’t feel like paying for a beach bed at the beach club, you can just bring your towel and drinks. This beach has calm shallow waters, with white sand. This is an excellent place to have a relaxing time. 

An interesting area on this beach is the Cubos, and man-made sea barrier, made of massive concrete cubes. It is a good place for interesting snaps.  

While bringing your food and beverages is allowed, glass bottles are not. Camping is not allowed either. 

Playa Langosta

Bailey stands in the shallow and calm waters of Playa Langosta in Cancun, Mexico
You can’t get calmer waters!

Playa Langosta is another beautiful beach, especially if you love calm shallow waters. It’s often packed with locals and has a large entrance to the beach. We actually came here after visiting the Scenic Tower (more on that later!) as it’s only a short walk away.

Playa Langosta is completely free to visit, and you’ll find vendors walking up and down the beach. There are also some beach clubs around if you’re looking for lunch!

6. Take a trip to the Cancun Underwater Museum (MUSA)

A statue at the MUSA Reef in Cancun
A statue at the MUSA Reef
Bailey and Daniel look at a Sting Ray at the MUSA dive site in Cancun
A stingray at MUSA!

One of the more adventurous things to do is to head underwater and explore the Museo Subacuatico de Art, aka the Underwater Museum or MUSA. I’m not really a regular museum kinda gal, but this combines a little history with a ton of adventure, and I found it to be one of the best places to go snorkeling in Cancun!

The museum began taking shape in 2009 to help save some of the reef life near Cancun. Since the project started, over 500 unique sculptures have been placed under the water to create this unique reef. Not only is it really cool to look at, but with over 100,000 people visiting every year, it also helps to draw the crowds and protect other more vulnerable coral reefs – neat!

There are a bunch of super fun underwater tours of this museum, including this 4-hour snorkeling tour with refreshments, or this 5-hour beginner-friendly scuba dive in the reef from Cancun. Dan and I actually tried out this exact scuba diving tour, and I was blown away by just how much marine life calls the museum home. Think tons of colorful fish, graceful rays floating on by, and lots of friendly turtles!

Another reason I love scuba diving here is that the reef is pretty shallow, at most it’s around 26 feet (8 meters) deep, which is pretty easy for beginner divers to get the hang of.

If you are doing the snorkeling or scuba tour, keep in mind there is a $15 USD additional docking fee which is pretty standard for most ocean experiences here in Mexico. That said, there is also quite a bit of swimming involved and there may be swells in the ocean, so make sure you are a comfortable swimmer before booking!

This is the largest underwater museum in Mexico and a must-visit in my opinion! 

7. Explore Rio Secreto Underground River

Rio Secreto Underground River, Mexico
You’re technically not supposed to take photos inside so I could only snap this quick one!

Rio Secreto is a protected natural reservoir of caves and underground rivers located in Playa del Carmen, just one hour away from the city. The caves and passages are extensive, and there are still unexplored areas of the caves. They have lots of unique fauna, like interesting-shaped spiders!

Walking in the dark is indeed a bit intimidating. Don’t be afraid, though; it’s all safe. You will be just walking inside the shallow, flowing caves enjoying the beautiful rock formations and crystal-clear water. This is an activity especially fun for people traveling with kids as they will love it. 

You can choose to drive to Rio Secreto yourself and book only your tour to save money or book a tour with transport. This specific tour offers both options, with the ticket-only tour costing $92 USD and with transport from Cancun option costing $149 USD. I personally drove myself in my rental car as it worked out cheaper for our group of four.

If you choose the transport option, this tour starts early in the morning at 8 am and includes an airconditioned vehicle and refreshments.

It’s important to note that when visiting Rio Secreto, make sure you don’t wear any sunscreen or mosquito repellent. This pollutes the water and is not required anyway.

Remember, this activity can be done even on a rainy day. So if you’re expecting bad weather, save it for those days! You can book your spot at Rio Secreto online here!

Why We Book Tours with Viator

Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! We almost always book our tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:

  • Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
  • Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
  • Lowest price guarantee – If you happen to find the same tour at a lower price elsewhere, Viator will refund you the price difference.
  • Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
  • Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.

Check out the Viator website here! Or, for more info, read our detailed review about Viator here.

8. Visit Tulum

Bailey walks the grounds of the Tulum Ruins, Mexico
Exploring the ruins!

The small town of Tulum is one of the most popular places to visit in Mexico. This trendy town offers you a wide array of options when visiting. Just plan a one-day trip to the area and have an amazing adventure.

Whenever visiting Tulum, you cannot miss the chance to visit some of the nearby cenotes. Cenotes are a system of underground rivers, caves, and sinkholes that flow through the Yucatan Peninsula. This system is unique since the rivers are connected to the sea. Some of the best cenotes in Tulum are Dos Ojos, Cenote Calavera, and Cenote Zacil-Ha. 

Some other awesome things to do in Tulum include visiting the Tulum Ruins, one of the coolest archaeological sites in the area, drinking craft beer at Cervecería Tulum, and exploring Laguna Kaan Luum. There are also plenty of great restaurants in Tulum for any foodies to enjoy.  

If you don’t have a rental car in Mexico, you have two options when it comes to getting to Tulum. The first is this full-day tour to the Tulum ruins, Tulum Beach, and a cenote. The tour includes lunch, snorkeling equipment, and an expert guide. It’s a pretty great value for just $109 USD and won the Viator Experience Award in 2022 – so it’s definitely one of the best tours in Cancun!

If you’re feeling a bit adventurous, you can just take the bus all the way to Tulum. This is a budget-friendly adventure since the bus to Tulum is only $9 USD. If you are staying in the hotel zone, take a bus to Cancun downtown, then get off at Ado Bus Station. Although cheap, this is a lot more time-consuming since the buses stop frequently. If you are taking the bus, it might be wise to stay overnight in Tulum so you get more time to explore.

9. Spend the day at Xcaret 

Xcaret, Mexico
Xcaret is such a fun place to visit!

When visiting a resort in Cancun, you may wonder if the only thing to do there is to lie by the beach and get sun-kissed while enjoying frozen margaritas. Don’t get me wrong, we all love frozen margaritas and piña coladas, but occasionally we feel like having an adventure.

Well, Xcaret Waterpark is the best option if you want to enjoy a fun day out of the resort while still feeling like you’re at a resort. And don’t worry if a waterpark isn’t your thing, this place is so much more than that!

This eco-water park is located near the Cancun area and offers you a wide array of activities like snorkeling, swimming at the Caleta, visiting Mayan pyramids, enjoying live performances, an aquarium, and an aquatic park.  

You can even swim with dolphins, manta rays, or sharks for a surcharge! 

Suppose you don’t feel like spending all day long doing water activities? In that case, you can visit the Mayan Pyramids located inside the park or enjoy one of the performances available all day long.  

There are many ways to get to Xcaret. The easiest way is on this full-day tour that offers transportation from your hotel to the park with all the amenities included. 

I recommend booking the Xcaret Plus service since it includes access to the lunch buffet and other amenities like lockers, dressing rooms, and snorkeling equipment. You’ll need to eat while you’re there, and you save money booking it together online in advance

If you don’t want to be on a tour, you can also drive yourself or book a shuttle from Cancun to Xcaret. If you book with the shuttle bus from Xcaret it is more comfortable and also includes a single-day park entry.

10. Go shopping 

Bailey walks through the La Isla Shopping Mall in Cancun, Mexico
There are so many stores to browse!
Bailey looks at traditional Mexican blankets in the La Isla Shopping Mall in Cancun, Mexico
We got ourselves a blanket!

When it comes to shopping, Cancun is full of options – especially luxury ones. If you are looking to use the tax-free benefit when purchasing luxury goods, I would recommend visiting La Isla Shopping Mall, located in the hotel zone.  

The application process for tax-free benefits can be a bit bothersome, but taxes in Mexico are 16%, so you would end up saving a lot by applying for this.

The Cancun hotel zone is also full of small souvenir shops like Plaza Party or Mercado Negro Mall. You could find various things like tequila, colorful Mexican blankets, small presents like keyholders, chocolates, and other Mexican candies in these places.  

If you feel like these souvenirs are way too common, you can visit the Mercado 28 in downtown Cancun. This place is just one ride away from the hotel zone. I recommend taking a taxi from the hotel zone directly to the market. It is a bit pricey, but it would save you a lot of hassle.  

You can do some shopping and have lunch there. Eat like the locals and have a bite of the local Mexican food. On a hot day, Ceviche or Mojarra (tilapia-like fish) and beer are the way to go! Just be sure to do your shopping before having a beer. You want to be the smartest when negotiating the prices of your souvenirs.  

11. Swim in cenotes 

Bailey swims in a cenote near Cancun, Mexico
The water is crystal clear!
View of Zemway Cenote in Mexico
How nice are the cenotes!?

Did you know there are plenty of cenotes to visit near Cancun? La Ruta del Cenote is a famous area filled with hundreds of Cenotes located in Puerto Morelos, just one hour’s drive away from Cancun downtown.  

If you are feeling like having a one-day adventure, you can explore some of the famous cenotes in the area including Cenote La Noria, Verde Lucero, Cenote Mojarras just to name a few. 

To get to La Ruta del Cenote, you would need to rent a car or book a tour – there is no public transportation available. Depending on the season, there is a small fee to visit each cenote of around 200 to 400 Mexican pesos ($10-$20 USD), and they are all open from 11 am to 4 pm.   

Cenote La Noria is partially open, so you would be swimming inside a cavern. You can see some small birds and bats flying around you while you enjoy its beautiful water. This is a hidden spot inside the jungle with no crowds. It is a relaxing place with very few people. This cenote costs 250 pesos ($12.80 USD). 

Verde Lucero is a medium size open cenote. It is a beautiful place with hammocks, rope swings, and some small zip lines. It’s often pretty busy, and they offer a unique chance to enjoy a Temazcal – a traditional Mexican sauna. For a surcharge, you can experience the pre-Hispanic way of the sauna. It costs 300 pesos ($15 USD) to visit. 

Cenote Mojarras is a big open cenote with a long zipline over it. In my opinion, it’s the least beautiful but can be the most fun – especially for kids who love ziplining. They have hammocks and a picnic area, but the water can become murky because the cenote is so big.

Selvatica is a big eco-park located inside La Ruta del Cenote. If you are up for a jungle adventure, this is your place. There are many options to choose from, but all of them have this in common, they are centered on eco-tourism. Cenote swimming is not the only activity you would find there. You can enjoy camping, horse riding, zipline canopy, 4×4 ATV riding, and bungee swing are just a few of the things to do over there. 

Another option is to drive down to scout out the most popular cenotes including Cenote Calavera, Dos Ojos, Zacil-Ha Cenote, Gran Cenote, and Cenote Azul. Or book a tour to Tulum, the cenote you visit will depend on which tour you book.

In this particular tour, you’ll first visit the Tulum archeological site before snorkeling in a reef, exploring a cave, walking through the jungle, and swimming in Xtun Cavernas cenote. It costs $109 USD and lasts around 8 hours. It is also a multi-lingual tour offered in 8 languages!

12. Enjoy a dining experience at Xoximilco Theme Park  

Some of the boats with set tables at Xoximilco Cancun
This is a unique way to enjoy dinner in Cancun! Photo credit: Xoximilco Cancun

Xoximilco is a park with water canals with very beautiful and colorful boats called trajineras. You may have read about these in Mexico City, as this attraction in Cancun is actually a replica of the real Xochimilco Canals near Mexico City.

The boats are equipped for a party, with a big table that seats up to 20 people! This experience is a gastronomic tour while riding the trajineras. The tour includes tequila tasting, dinner, traditional Mexican candy tasting, and snacks. This is defintiely one of the best tours in Cancun for foodies!

While you cruise the canals and eat, a live bands perform. Enjoy Mariachi, Norteno, and other traditional Mexican music styles while sipping tequila under the stars as you sail down the canals. 

Don’t worry if your Espanol no ser Bueno, all hosts speak English, and they will make sure you have an amazing night! 

You can expect to try traditional food from all over Mexico including chapulines (grasshopper) – they are surprisingly very tasty, full of protein, and go well with tequila. Cochinita (pork), mole, and tamarindo shrimp, among other Mexican traditional dishes, will be served during dinner.  

The last part of the tasting includes a tray of bite-size Mexican candies like chocolate, coconut, and milk candy. All of this is included for only $117 USD!

The tour begins at 7 pm but transport is not included. So, you’ll need to get a taxi there which takes around 25 to 30 minutes from the Cancun Hotel Zone. Be sure to buy your tickets in advance here to ensure you get a seat. You don’t want to miss this Mexican party!

13. Visit the ruins in the city

Daniel stands in front of the main temple at Zona Arqueológica de San Miguelito in Cancun, Mexico
The main temple!
Daniel walks the Museo Maya de Cancún in Cancun, Mexico
The museum is a great break from the sun!

There are some seriously cool Mayan ruin sites both in and around the city. So if learning a little about Mayan history is on your cards, you’re in for a treat. Here are a couple of our favorite spots:

The Museo Maya and San Miguelito Ruins

The Museo Maya is an archeological museum conveniently located in Cancun’s hotel zone. The museum is home to lots of ancient artifacts from the Mayan civilization, and there are even artifacts from Chichen Itza housed here. It’s a very interesting place to visit – especially for history lovers.

San Miguelito Ruins located next to the museum span over 80 hectares and are home to ancient buildings now well-preserved for visitors to see. You can visit both places at once and spend your day getting to know the Mayan Culture and its interesting history.

The entrance fee to the museum is only 90 pesos (USD not accepted) and includes access to San Miguelito archeological zone. The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 9 am to 5 pm, and the archeological zone is open from 9 am to 4 pm.

You can take one of the red buses down the strip to get to the museum – it’s super cheap and fun. The ticket is only one dollar, and you get off in front of the Emporio Hotel. Or, just grab a taxi from your hotel.

El Rey

El Rey is a Mayan archeological zone located in the Cancun hotel zone, one of the three important Mayan sites in the area. It is a very small site, just around the corner in the hotel zone. El Rey is the perfect activity in Canun for people who are interested in the Mayan culture but don’t want to go all the way to Chichen Itza.  

The red buses in the hotel zone will take you there. You’ll find the entrance to the site right on Kukulcan Avenue, the entrance is very noticeable, you won’t miss it. 

Business hours are from 8 am to 4:30 pm and the access ticket is only 65 pesos ($3 USD). 

Hot Tip: Combine your visit to El Rey with Playa Delfines since they are located so close to each other! Visit the ruins early in the morning and later spend your day under a palapa on the beach.  

One of the main temples at El Meco Ruins, Cancun, Mexico
El Meco!

El Meco

El Meco Ruins is a small Mayan archeological site located in the north area of the city. This archeological zone is believed to have had an important role in the Mayan civilization’s navigation and trade – some experts believe that it worked as a lighthouse to navigate to Isla Mujeres!

El Meco Ruins site often has no crowds and offers a more intimate visit than other ruins around Cancun – a stark contrast to Chichen Itza or Tulum.

Besides the ruins, the area is home to gigantic iguanas and friendly coatis. They are super cute; they will try to steal any snacks you might be carrying with you.  

To get to El Meco you will need to take a taxi from the hotel area. In this area, public transportation is a bit scarce, so a taxi or Uber is probably your best bet. 

Opening hours are from 8 am to 4 pm and the entrance fee is only 65 pesos ($3 USD). 

Hot Tip: The Puerto Juarez ferry port is near El Meco ruins. You can do an early visit to El Meco Ruins then later head to the ferry port, and leave for Isla Mujeres to spend the day getting sun-kissed by the beach.  

14. Go on a food tour 

Bailey with her tacos and margarita on a taco tour in Cancun, Mexico
Tacos and margaritas!
Tacos on a food tour in Cancun, Mexico
And more tacos!

While the food served in the Cancun Hotel Zone is good, it is a mix of flavors for everybody’s tastebuds. So if you want to try the real Mexican flavors, you will have to visit downtown Cancun as most of the best Mexican restaurants in Cancun are located here.

The tacos from downtown restaurants have a real spicy Mexican flavor and tasty juicy meat. Al Pastor tacos are pork cooked under the flames with spices mixed to add a savory texture – soft juicy and crispy at the same time. These are some of my favorite tacos in Mexico!

To taste the best tacos, consider joining a food tour such as this taco and beer tour! The tour includes all your tastings, which will have you leaving stuffed! They will pick you up at your hotel and will take you to the best taquerias in town, along with an English-speaking guide. Alcoholic drinks and Mariachi music are also included.

15. Isla Mujeres day trip  

Bailey in a bikini on a catamaran cruise from Cancun, Mexico
Arriving to Isla Mujeres!
Daniel and Bailey on a golf buggy on Isla Mujeres, Mexico
Exploring Isla Mujeres!

Isla Mujeres is another one of the most beautiful islands in the Mexican Caribbean. The white-sandy beaches and close proximity to Cancun – only a 20-minute ferry ride – makes it one of the most popular day trips from Cancun. On the island you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to things to see or do, but the truth is, the beaches are the stars of the show here.

Playa Centro is the most accessible beach, just a few meters away from the ferry port. There, you can rent a deckchair by the beach for only 250 pesos ($13 USD) and have a fresh coconut under the palm trees.  

Renting a golf cart is an excellent way to explore the remote beaches on the island, like the Na Balan Beach, where you can have typical dishes from Yucatan cuisine, like the tasty lime soup. This soup is just what you need after swimming on a hot day – so refreshing!

If you feel like spending the night in Isla Mujeres, there are various accommodations you can check out here. You won’t find massive properties like in Cancun. Most of them are small, family-owned businesses, each with its unique aesthetic, and also more affordable. Be sure to make reservations in advance since the availability is limited. If you do stay the night, I recommend booking a whale shark tour in Isla Mujeres since it’s one of the best spots in Mexico to see these gentle giants!

There are a few ferry ports with trips departing to the island, such as Playa Tortugas and Playa Caracol. However, I got there with a company called Ultramar from the Puerto Juarez ferry terminal, only minutes from the hotel zone.

The ferry from Cancun to Isla Mujeres
The ferry to Isla Mujeres
Bailey on the ferry from Isla Mujeres to Cancun
Off we go!

Ferry tickets to Isla Mujeres are only $540 MXN ($32 USD) for a round trip, and departures run every 30 minutes from 5:30 am to 11 pm. The schedule is similar on the way back. 

If you’d rather have transportation and all the details taken care of, there are also some fantastic Isla Mujeres tours from Cancun that feel like a mini vacation during your vacation! One of the best is this luxury catamaran and snorkel tour, which is perfect for groups, as well as couple travelers and even solo travelers looking to make a few new friends.

On this tour, you’ll spend the best part of a day (around 5 and a half hours) sailing across the gorgeous coastline to Isla Mujeres and back! Here on the island, you can either choose to explore on your own or go with the group to explore some of the must-visit spots – the choice is yours. There’s also an open bar on board – sun, drinks, and good company, what more could you ask for?

Tickets for this tour cost $139 USD per person, which includes all docking fees, as well as lunch, access to the open bar, and hotel pick-up/drop-off. This is also a pretty popular tour, so it’s a good idea to get in and reserve your spot online here to avoid disappointment!

16. Visit Chichen Itza 

Bailey poses for a photo at Chichen Itza with the main temple in the background
Chichen Itza!
Group of the Thousand Columns at Chichen Itza
Group of the Thousand Columns at Chichen Itza

Without a doubt, the most popular Mayan ruins in Mexico is Chichen Itza. This UNESCO world heritage site and World Wonder is a bucket list place to visit and a must for those visiting Cancun!

The archeological site is most well known as the home of El Castillo – the main temple at the site. It’s a true show of the Mayan peoples’ knowledge of the earth and planets. However, Chichen Itza is also home to The Great Ball Court. This is the largest in Mesoamerica and is 168 by 70 meters (551 by 230 feet.) The game played here was called Pitz.

Getting to Chichen Itza is best done either with a rental car or on an organized tour. If you can drive yourself, it’s around a 2.5-hour drive each way, so be prepared for a long day! The entrance fee is 571 MXN ($30 USD) for adults, and the site is open from 8 am to 5 pm. Right now, it’s best to book your tickets in advance as they have a cap on visitors of 3,000 per day.

For those without a rental car or who don’t want the hassle of driving so far, consider booking an organized tour from CancunThis specific tour is what I did, and I booked it because of all the fantastic reviews. The full-day tour departs very early in the morning before dawn; this way, you can make the most of the day while in Chichen Itza. Several meeting points are located throughout the hotel zone. 

Visiting the Chichen Itza pyramids is the highlight. However, you also visit one of the cenotes in the Yucatan, Cenote Sagrado. If you book the deluxe tour, it costs $69 USD but includes breakfast, lunch, and your entrance fees ($31 USD). It visits Cenote Saamal vs Sagrado on the other tour.

Make sure you bring comfortable shoes, your camera, sunscreen, and some cash.

17. Take in the views from the Cancun Scenic Tower 

Bailey looks out the window of the Cancun Scenic Tower in Cancun, Mexico
The view is amazing!
Stunning views from the top of the Cancun Scenic Tower 
You also learn about the area!

One of the coolest attractions in the hotel zone is the Cancun Scenic Tower. This tall tower takes guests from the ground up over 80 meters (260 feet) into the air to enjoy spectacular views of the area. It’s the best place to take in the views of the Mexican Caribbean!

You might be thinking, do I have to walk up? The answer is ‘no’, thanks to the design of the viewpoint. The entire viewing deck is lowered and lifts guests to the top so there is no walking required! It’s like a massive rotating elevator.

The entrance fee is only 20 USD, and business hours are from 9 am to 9 pm (sunset would be a great time to go!).

You can get to the Cancun Scenic Tower by taking an Uber/taxi or bus. For the bus you can grab the one heading northbound and get off at the Embacadero stop. If you’re feeling lost, just pay attention to the scenery – it’s not hard to spot the 260-foot tower! It’s also walking distance from most hotels in the Hotel Zone.

Hot Tip: If you visited one of the nine parks by Xcaret (Xcaret, Xel-Há, Xenotes), don’t remove your bracelet right away. You can use that bracelet to access the scenic tower in Cancun for free the following days after your visit to those parks. Most people don’t know this!

18. Go scuba diving

Bailey and daniel scuba dive past a huge coral in Cancun, mexico
Scuba diving in Mexico is overall better than snorkeling!
A school of fish while scuba diving in Cancun
So cool!

Scuba diving in Cancun is a wild experience and one I love doing every time I visit. Daniel and I are both certified divers and really enjoyed this two-dive tour in Cancun. We got to dive at the Underwater Museum before heading to a nearby reef to dive with fish, turtles, and more!

There are also other dive site options, such as this wreck dive, which is next on my bucket list.

Of course, in most places around the world, you need to be certified to dive. Well, in Cancun, you don’t need to worry about that. Instead, book this beginner scuba diving tour and admire the beauty of the colorful sea fishes and visit the most popular diving spots accompanied by a pro diver.

Even without any diving experience, you can try this tour. You will get professional instruction with a two-hour lesson at a pool before departing for your sea adventure. You won’t dive deep, but you’ll still get to enjoy breathing underwater in a safe environment. The tour visits the underwater reefs of Manchones as well as the Cancun Underwater Museum !

Departures are early in the morning from Real Inn Cancun at the hotel zone. All necessary equipment and fees are included.  

19. Day or overnight trip to Isla Holbox 

Arial view of Isla Holbox, Mexico
The cute town on Isla Holbox is one of my favorite places to visit to experience island life!

Isla Holbox is one of the most spectacular islands in Mexico and is located just over two hours away by ferry. Isla Holbox has some of the most beautiful beaches in the Yucatan Peninsula and is a stark contrast to the resort town of Cancun. 

On Isla Holbox, you can find small hotels and super cute properties with spots perfect for unforgettable shots. No big hotels in the area, only small boutique hotels that give you a very warm welcome.  

It’s a tiny island and only 1,000 people live there permanently. Even during high season, you will always find an excellent spot to relax. 

Take lots of pictures on the hammocks by the beach, and don’t forget to rent a bicycle to explore the island. In fact, there are no cars on Isla Holbox, and the best way to get around is on a bike or golf cart.

The economy of the island is based on fishing, so that means lots of fresh fish is on offer! Depending on the season, that can mean fresh lobster too!

Getting to Isla Holbox is rather easy and involves a 2-hour drive to Chiquila and then a 15-minute ferry to the island. If you’re visiting on your own, this is what you’ll do as well as book your hotel in advance (necessary since they often are fully booked.)

However, for those who don’t want the hassle, this specific tour is a great option. The top-rated day tour from Cancun will take you directly to the ferry port and ferry tickets and all fees included. You just need to sit back and relax.

First, enjoy a visit to Isla Pasion, a heart-shaped island next to Holbox Island. Then it’s off to Isla Holbox to enjoy the pristine beaches, laid-back island life, and delicious fresh seafood. The tour includes some time to enjoy the famous ocean hammocks as well as a 1-hour bike rental to explore the island. For an extra charge, you can grab a golf cart and explore at a quicker pace.

It’s a fantastic day; just be repaired for a long day and get some rest the night before (that means no Coco Bongo!) Be sure to book your tour to Isla Holbox here in advance, numbers are limited on this highly-rated tour!

20. Go deep-sea fishing

Fishing in Mexico
Trying to catch something good!

The fishing off the coast of Mexico is really good and Cancun provides the perfect opportunity to go deep-sea fishing. 

There are a lot of tours available, including very expensive full-day tours; however, without a large group (up to 14 people), these tours are too expensive. So, do what Daniel did and go on this group fishing tour. You will have a fun day at sea, whether you are booking this tour with friends or by yourself.  

First-timers are very welcome and the experienced captain will make sure you have a good catch, like barracudas, tunas, snapper, and even the elusive blue marlin. Beer, soft drinks, and all the necessary equipment for this trip are also included.   

The departure is at sunrise from Marina Chac Chi located in the hotel zone. Don’t forget your sunscreen and hat!  

21. Find all of the Cancun signs

Bailey poses for a photo in front of one of the Cancun signs in Cancun, Mexico
Can you find them all?

If it isn’t pretty obvious by now, Cancun is a pretty popular tourist spot! And like any great tourist spot, there are equally epic location signs where you can grab a picture for the ‘gram. The city is full of loads of these signs, which are all pretty unique, with some nestled in the heart of the city, while others have a gorgeous ocean backdrop. So you know what that means… It’s time to snap them all!

On our last trip, I counted at least 5 Cancun signs, and there’s definitely more than that. So if you manage to beat my record, definitely let me know down in the comments.

Fancy a little hint to get you started? One of the most visited beaches in Cancun is Playa Delfines. It’s not only one of the most beautiful beaches in Cancun, but it also hosts a HUGE Cancun sign! You’ve probably already seen pictures of this place all over your social media.

Don’t get disheartened if there’s already a pretty big line by the time you get there – everybody wants to take a picture in this spot. With that said, if you go early in the morning, you can take your time to take as many shots as you like.

After your photo-op, you can part take in one of the fun activities available at the beach like kite sailing and even surfing!

22. Watch a Lucha Libre show

Lucha Libre in Mexico
The photos aren’t good because you can’t take your camera to the event, only mobile phones are allowed. Apparently, because people throw the batteries at the wrestlers!!

We all have heard about Mexican Lucha Libre (wrestling), right? 

It’s fun and exciting, and the collective energy of the public cheering their favorite wrestler in the arena is something you must experience once in your lifetime. Although most commonly known as one of the best things to do in Mexico City, you can also see a Lucha Libre show in Cancun!

Las Luchas (that is what it’s called in Mexico) match takes place on select evenings in Academia TWS, located in Cancun downtown.  

This is a very cheap and fun activity you can try for only 150 MXN. Seats closer to the arena are on the pricier side, but you won’t miss any detail of the match from over there.  

Although everybody is welcome here keep in mind this event is tailored to the locals, the language spoken will be Spanish. Don’t worry though, you won’t miss any of the fun, this is a show that doesn’t require too many words.  Check their website for event details.  

If going on your own (and navigating the language barrier) sounds like too much hassle, don’t worry, you can book a guided tour instead. This particular tour includes your 1st row tickets to the Lucha Libre show, dinner, a souvenir mask, hotel pick-up and drop-off, and more! I’s a highly-rated tour that only costs $199 USD. You can book it online here to secure your spot.

Related Read: When we were in Mexico City we also did a Lucha Libre tour – read all about it!

23. Go on a sunset cruise

A catamaran from Isla Mujeres sails back to Cancun after the tour
Sunset is the best time for a cruise!
Bailey and Daniel cheers with wine at sunset on a catamaran cruise back to Cancun from Isla Mujeres
Cheers!

Let’s face it, nothing is more romantic than sunset on the ocean. While you can just take in the sunset from one of the beaches, nothing beats getting out on the water! Luckily, there are a few different sunset cruises you can choose from in Cancun that suit all budgets and travelers.

This sunset cruise has more of a nightlife vibe than the other tours. It takes off later in the afternoon, so while you don’t get to snorkel, you can catch the beautiful sunset right on Isla Mujeres’ Playa Norte, then party on the way back with the DJ and live music on board! This is one of the most fun sunset tours from Cancun to Isla Mujeres

This 4-hour tour costs $69 USD per person, including hotel pickup and drop off and the open bar. There’s also an additional $20 USD dock fee which you have to pay on the day. It doesn’t include any food, but you will have time to get dinner on Isla Mujeres. You can book this party-vibe sunset cruise here!

If you are after a longer cruise, consider booking this particular cruise instead. It starts in late morning, so you get time for snorkeling before heading to Isla Mujeres where you’ll have free time. After, you’ll sail back to Cancun at sunset – it’s stunning!

With this tour, you get to enjoy unlimited drinks on board! Lunch isn’t included, but there are plenty of nice places to eat on Isla Mujeres. There’s a maximum of 35 guests per boat, so there’s often a pretty energetic vibe during this last part of the tour. The tour is scheduled to last 8 hours, so you really get a lot out of this day tour. You can book your spot online here for just $29 USD!

24. Experience a Temazcal Ceremony 

A Temazcal in Mexico
You do rituals outside before entering the Temazcal

A Temazcal is basically a pre-hispanic sauna used for hundreds of years by the indigenous people. The term “Temazcal” actually translates to “house of heat.”

One of the big differences between a Temazcal and a sauna is that it’s more of a spiritual journey led by a Sharman. It’s about cleansing the body, and the rituals can last hours. Of course, you won’t spend hours in the sauna, but there are some rituals before and after.

Temazcal tours are becoming very popular all around Latin America (I did one in Lake Atitlan in Guatemala.) From Cancun, you can do this organized tour that takes you to a small Maytan town called Dos Palmas, where you’ll visit a local home and begin your ceremony.

You’ll learn to play the Sea Snail, which is a traditional instrument, before entering the Tezmacal and cleansing your body. You’ll also finish with a dip in a cenote to cool off. It’s a really fun experience that’s unique to Cancun! You can book it online here for just $125 USD.

25. Explore Playa del Carmen

bailey on the beach in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
The beach in Playa del Carmen!
Bailey poses for a photo on 5th avenue in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
5th Avenue is a famous pedestrian street!

Playa del Carmen is just a one-hour drive away from Cancun. If you rent a car in Cancun, this is an easy day trip! Playa del Carmen is a smaller city, with lots of places to have fun for tourists. Restaurants, shopping malls, nightclubs, and beach clubs are just a few of the attractions in the area.  

One of the most famous beach clubs in Playa del Carmen is Mamitas Beach Club. This club is always crowded with DJ music and a big party vibe. Everybody wants to spend the day there, make sure to arrive early to get a good seat at this day party.  

If you just feel like spending a few hours in Playa, you can go shopping on 5th Avenue. Many small shops with cute souvenirs are located there. There are also two big shopping malls on the Avenue with high-end brands if you feel like splurging a bit during your stay.  

An excellent way to get to know Mexican food is a visit to the Zocalo in Playa del Carmen. There, you can find delicious tacos, fresh fruits, and other snacks. The prices are very accessible and the food is amazing! If you want to have delicious tacos be sure to arrive around lunchtime.  

To get to Playa del Carmen from Cancun, take the bus from Ado Station. The round ticket is only 150 MXN ($7.70 USD). Otherwise, there are lots of transport options such as a rental car or taxi.

A day trip to Playa del Carmen is easily one of the best things to do in Cancun, but if you have extra time, I recommend staying a night or two. Playa del Carmen makes for an excellent base for exploring all the fun things that the Mayan Riviera has to offer, and is a completely diffferent vibe than Cancun.

26. Stand up paddleboarding  

Stand Up Paddle boarding in Cancun, Mexico
It took a while to get used to, but I eventually got up!

The Cancun Hotel Zone offers a wide array of activities, and one of my favorites is stand-up paddleboarding! You can rent SUPs on the beach for around $20 USD and try your luck at this fun and challenging activity in Cancun. It’s harder than it looks, but it’s a great workout!

If you think you’ll struggle, there is a laguna paddling tour that includes some instructions on how to master the paddleboard. To join this tour, you must go to Marina Kaybal. On the tour, you can enjoy the local wildlife while paddling on Laguna Nichtupe and taking in the breathtaking scenery. The sun’s rays hitting the water’s surface produces a very beautiful view that you will never forget! 

For a unique experience, you can also do SUP yoga tours which are super unique, and I have yet to try! This tour in Cancun provides you with all the necessary equipment and instructor. To access this tour, take the bus to the hotel zone and get off at Playa Caracol. The entrance to the beach is next to the RIU hotel. 

27. Enjoy some water sports  

A person on a jet ski in the lagoon in Cancun, Mexico
Get out on a jet ski!

Water sports are a popular activity in Cancun. Parasailing, jet skiing, and flyboarding (water jets on your feet) are just a few of the activities you can take part in.  

Parasailing is a very popular activity at the beaches in Cancun – even kids can participate in it accompanied by an adult. The view from above is totally breathtaking. Jet skiing is also available at the beach. If you don’t have any experience, don’t worry, a life vest and short instructions course are included. Parasailing starts at $60 USD and Jet skiing costs around $80 USD and both are 30-minute trips. 

Flyboarding is one of the most extreme yet memorable water sports you can experience. The most popular spot for flyboard is in Marina Chac Chi. Services start anywhere from $119+USD for a 20-45 min ride depending on which company you go with. For a memorable experience, get the picture package. This way you will get the best snaps of yourself while flying 10 meters (33 feet) over the water!

28. Spend the day at Ventura Park 

A wide angle view of Ventura Park in Cancun, Mexico
It doesn’t matter how old I get, I still love coming to Ventura! Photo credit: Ventura Cancun

Sometimes, finding entertainment for kids can be tricky when you travel. However, an excellent option for families visiting Cancun is a visit to Ventura Park. I loved this park when I was younger and would happily spend all day here as an adult, too!

The theme park is home to a lot of exciting activities like canopy zipline, go-karts, waterslides, a beach club, and wave pool. Located in the hotel zone, you can reach this park by taking a cheap taxi or the red bus.

The basic ticket starts at $38 USD with all food and drinks included. I would recommend that you get the Platinum ticket, which includes alcoholic beverages (for the adults) and access to the Go-Karts. With the VIP ticket, you can have access to all the services and virtual games, which is particularly great for families with teens.  

For families, this is easily one of the best things to do!

29. Go on a jungle adventure tour (ATVing, ziplines, and tequila tasting!)

Bailey and Bailey sit on an ATV in Mexico
When isn’t it a good time to go ATVing!
group of people trying tequila on a tasting near Cancun
Our tour included tequila tasting!

If you want an adventure, then you must hit the jungle just outside of Cancun. The only way to do this is on a guided tour. This highly-rated ATV Jungle Adventure tour starts with a ride through the dense jungle as you carve up several different trails. Keep an eye out for animals like iguanas and spider monkeys – although we were moving pretty fast so I didn’t spot any this time!

Then, it’s time to see the jungle from a different perspective as you zoom along three different ziplines! After all that excitement, we were ready to cool off and luckily that’s in the plans as the tour heads to a cenote along the famous Ruta de los Cenotes. The water was this crystal-clear, emerald green shade and felt amazing for a quick swim. The cenote is quite rocky though, so bring some water shoes along with you or some cash to rent a pair on the day.

Finally, the tour ends with a tequila tasting to toast all the day’s adventures!  

You can choose to begin this ATV tour at either 9:30 am or 1:30 pm, and it lasts for around 4 hours. Personally, we always opt for the morning tour because the heat of the day hasn’t set in yet and then we still have lots of our day left for more activities (or relaxing on a beach!).

The tour costs $69 USD per adult or $59 USD per child and includes all of your transport. You can rent a locker on the day for $5 USD and there will also be photos of your experiences available to purchase afterward, although these are usually pretty expensive. 

You can check availability and book this jungle tour online here!

30. Visit Isla Contoy 

A beautiful beach on Isla Contoy, near Cancun, Mexico
The waters on Isla Contoy are crystal clear!

Contoy Island (Isla Contoy) is said to be one of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean, and I agree! What you can see on the island is just amazing: a wide variety of corals, fish, wildlife, and unique vegetation, even carnivore plants. You can also see small sharks on these virgin beaches.  

Snorkeling by the island offers you the chance to admire the second-largest reef in the world. Only surface snorkeling is allowed to avoid damage to the reef, perfect for inexperienced divers.  

In recent years, it has become a wildlife reserve and national park and a wide variety of birds have made Contoy Island their nesting place. 

In order to preserve the natural environment on and around the island, visitor numbers are limited to only 200 people per day. This makes access to the island a bit complicated, and as such, the only way to visit is on a guided tour.

This specific tour will take you to Contoy Island and Isla Mujeres on the same day from Cancun. The tour includes transportation, lunch, and snorkel equipment. It is a full-day tour of about 9 hours long at costs $141 USD per person.

31. Explore Nichupte Lagoon  

Bailey on a boat tour of Nichupte Lagoon in Cancun, Mexico
Exploring the Lagoon!
A boat cruises through Nichupte Lagoon in Cancun, Mexico
It’s a beautiful place!

Nichupte Lagoon is a natural paradise in the northern area of Cancun. It is a protected natural area full of mangroves and a water system where seven lagoons meet the sea. Fresh and saltwater mix in this lagoon, giving it a beautiful color.  

One of the best ways to enjoy the lagoon is on a kayak. You’ll get to explore the mangroves and spot fish, birds, and maybe even crocodiles! This guided kayaking tour is one of the best! It is a half-day guided kayaking tour with all safety equipment required, and hotel pick-up can easily be arranged.

If you choose the sunrise tour, you will see crocodiles lying on the shores taking the morning sun. They are harmless as long as you don’t approach them, they are just minding their business, but they don’t mind getting their picture taken. 

If you’d prefer not to paddle, this boat tour will take you to explore the lagoon with an English-speaking guide. The boat sails at 5 pm, and you will get to see the gorgeous Caribbean sunsets without having to lift a finger.

32. Visit the Interactive Aquarium Cancún  

Fish swim in a huge tank at the Interactive Aquarium Cancún, Mexico
There are lots of cool fish to see!

Another activity just around the corner at the hotel zone is a visit to the Interactive Aquarium. It is located inside La Isla Shopping Mall. 

The basic entrance fee is only 300 pesos ($15 USD) if you only want to admire the beauty of the colorful fish. If you want to have a more memorable experience you can book one of the interactive services available, like swimming with dolphins (although this is somehting we don’t personally support.)  

This place has lots of interactive activities available. I recommend checking their website in advance to book their interactive services. Opening hours are from 9 am to 8 pm. 

33. Take a trip to Las Coloradas

Las Coloradas pink lake, Mexico
How cool is the color?!

Las Coloradas is a lagoon in the northern area of the Yucatan Peninsula. What makes this place unique is the pink colorful hue of its waters. The lakes are part of the Río Lagartos Biosphere Reserve which is a protected area in Mexico.

Laguna Rosa (Pink Lagoon) is a salt-producing farm; the pink color comes from harmless bacteria growing in it. This is a spot that you just cannot miss, the scenery is just out of this world. A pink lagoon that meets a blue sky – it’s picture-perfect.

Lagartos Natural Park is also home to flamingos and many other bird species. This park works as a nesting area for the flamingos. A visit to this place gives you the chance to see this beautiful bird up close.

The best way to visit Laguna Rosa and see flamingos is on a guided tour from Cancun. This particular tour includes transport from the hotel zone in Cancun as well as lunch for only about $118 USD per person.

34. Spoil yourself at an all-inclusive

A group of people party at an all inclusive resort in Mexico
All inclusive resorts are so much fun!

Forget everything you thought you knew about all-inclusive resorts! When it comes to luxurious pampering at an unbelievable value, you just can’t beat Cancun. At these premier all-inclusive hot spots, you’ll be free to soak up the sun in true VIP style, while enjoying gorgeous meals, cocktails, and beers right in your hotel.

When you stay in an all-inclusive hotel, you’re not normally worrying about a tight budget, so feel free to let yourself relax and enjoy yourself. Trust me, you’ll never want to leave!

Here are a couple of our favorite all-inclusive resorts in Cancun:

Dreams Vista Cancun Golf & Spa Resort

Located just 20 minutes from downtown (and walking distance to Puerto Juarez Beach), Dreams Vista Cancun is one of the best all-inclusive resorts for families for a good reason! Not only is it just half an hour away from the nearest airport, but there are tons of things to do in the area if adventure calls, and you fancy heading out of the resort.

For the golf lovers out there, you can easily lose yourself in the 18-hole championship golf course, which is less than 3 km (2 miles) away and is meticulously managed. If soaking in the spa is more your thing, they have no less than three incredible swimming pools, as well as a wet and wild water park for the kids to enjoy themselves in!

One room at Dreams Vista costs $420 USD to $1,641 USD per night, and a one-week stay starts at $2,859 USD and goes up to $11,163 depending on the type of accommodation and number of people. You can check out rates and book your room online here.

Royalton CHIC Cancun, An Autograph Collection All-Inclusive Resort (Adults only)

While we love kids, sometimes you just want a bit of a break from the rowdy energy with a relaxing stay at an adults-only resort. The Royalton CHIC Cancun is right at the top of our list for adult-only all-inclusive resorts – in a nutshell, it’s an incredible oasis situated right along the soft white sands of Chac Mool Beach!

Once the sun sets, one of the best places to hang out is at the Level 18 rooftop cabana lounge, which serves delicious cocktails with some seriously stunning panoramic views of the city. It then transforms into a buzzing pool party venue – what more could you want?

There’s also a lot more to explore here, like their modern fitness center with state-of-the-art equipment and daily group classes, as well as a full-service spa and salon (perfect for that gap between beach and pool time). Oh, and did I mention the nine on-site gourmet restaurants you have free rein to pick between?

Each room also comes with air conditioning, a flat-screen TV with satellite, USB charging stations, a minibar with complimentary snacks and beverages, plus much more! Some suites even have a jacuzzi soaker tub too. A room here costs around $364 USD to $3,265 USD per night and can be booked online here.

35. See the talented Cirque du Soleil JOYÀ

Two performers on ropes during a show at Cirque du Soleil JOYÀ in Cancun, Mexico
The show is so exciting to watch! The things they do defy gravity! Photo credit: Cirque du Soleil JOYÀ

If you want to do something fancy, Cirque du Soleil JOYÀ is an excellent activity.

Everybody has heard about this entertainment company and its amazing shows. The Cancun show, JOYÀ, is the only Cirque du Soleil dinner theater in production. This production wants to appeal to all five senses by offering several amenities with the show.  

Dinner, aperitif, and champagne are all part of it. This whole dinner entertainment option is a memorable activity for couples, and Daniel and I loved it! 

This show takes place in the Vidanta Theater, between Playa del Carmen and Cancun, which is only 40 minutes from Cancun. If you don’t have a rental car, be sure to organize transport and book your tickets in advance here! There are several options, including VIP, dinner only, drinks only, and both. I didn’t think VIP was worth the price, but dinner and drinks are a must!

36. Captain Hook Dinner Cruise & Show  

Dancers perform on a Captain Cook cruise Cancun show
The show is very entertaining and the drinks were flowing!

If you feel like trying something different in Cancun then a Captain Hook Cruise is a fun way to spend your evening. Ride the Captain Hook Dinner Cruiser, a replica of a Spanish galleon, with a pirate show included. 

This fun activity starts at 6:30 pm, departing from the hotel area. Expect and loud and talented cast to tell the story of Captain Hook while you enjoy a delicious dinner and an open bar. Mojitos won’t stop following through the night and the fun host will take the party to the next level.  

If you want a more VIP experience, get a bottle and you will get a seat on the upper part of the ship.  

One of the things that I love about this tour is that it is fun for everybody, even families! Children love pirate entertainment as much as adults! It’s also very affordable with tickets starting at only $40 USD per person.

This is easily one of the most popular cruises, and as such, it often fully books. Secure your spot on the pirate cruise online here!

37. Check out Puerto Morelos  

Daniel and Bailey take a selfie in Puerto Morelos, Mexico
We love Puerto Morelos!
Bailey on the pier in Puerto Morelos, Mexico
Isn’t it beautiful here?

Puerto Morelos is a small bohemian fishing town, located 40 km (25 mi) south of Cancun. This is a very quiet beach town with no crowds, clear water, and white sand beaches. It’s a small town, with almost no tourist facilities and little English spoken – very different from the hotel zone! 

This town has a very different vibe and most accommodations here are small and very intimate with accessible prices. You’ll find plenty of delicious (and cheap) local restaurants in town. Try traditional Yucatan cuisine while you’re here like Cochinita and Lechon (steamed pork). Traditional food is very delicious and different from the food you can have in the Cancun resort area, you must try it. The Lechon sandwich is just AMAZING.  

Contrary to what you might think, there are lots of fun things to do in Puerto Morelos. If you go to the main port there are several places offering tours and water activities, like scuba diving, fishing on a small boat, or kayaking.

A reef tour is a fun activity for the day. Boats sail from the downtown port. The prices are very accessible, ranging from $45 to $70 USD. This is a very different type of reef tour; the local fisherman will take you to an amazing untouched reef.  

If you choose to rent a car to visit Puerto Morelos, you can also visit La Ruta del Cenote, which is just a few minutes from this fishing town. 

38. Go ziplining  

Bailey ziplining in Cancun, Mexico

If you are a very adventurous, active person, this next activity is for you! 

What about ziplining in the middle of the Mayan jungle, just 30 min away from the hotel zone, right in the heart of La Ruta del Cenote?  

This tour is the best option to do so. Ride the 3-km (1.9-mile) long zipline at high speed while enjoying the jungle scenery! Guide services and hotel pick-up are included (at an extra cost.) 

In fact, this is the largest zipline course in all of North America! But it’s not just ziplinig that you’ll find here, you can also ride in an ATV and do a bungee jump! It’s a thrilling adventure park that any adrenaline junkie will absolutely love.

You can learn more about park and book your spot online here!

39. Play golf at Iberostar Golf Club

The course at Iberostar Golf Club in Cancun, Mexico
The course at Iberostar Golf Club in Cancun, Mexico

One very convenient thing about the Cancun Hotel Zone is that it has everything you would like just around the corner, including golf courses!

My recommended place for a round of golf is Iberostar Cancun Golf Club. They have very attractive packages, which include meals and non-alcoholic drinks. If you book more than two people, they will pick you up at your hotel (in the hotel zone.)

You need to book in advance since this place is always busy. Most cards are accepted, and basic packages start at 2,100 MXN for 4 hours of play.  

Note: If you want to pay in cash, be sure to bring pesos with you since dollars are not accepted. Business hours are from 6 am to 7 pm. 

40. Xplor Adventure Park

People ride ATVs at Xplor Adventure Park, Mexico
Riding side by side is so much fun when you’re on a Cancun ATV tour! Photo credit: MariaKray Depositphotos

After another adventure in Cancun? Look no further than Xplor Adventure Park, another theme park of the Xcaret Brand. The park is open from 9 am to 5 pm and again from 5 pm to 11 pm Monday to Saturday and is located just off the Tulum/Cancun highway, about 1 hour south of Cancun.

Entrance to the park costs around $129 USD, which includes lots of activities such as ziplining, waterfalls, driving ATV vehicles, swimming through cenotes, and lunch. The best way to get to Xplor is to drive yourself, but hotel pickup and transportation are available through organized tours or through a shuttle bus.

I would personally recommend booking the shuttle bus from Cancun as the cost of your ride also includes the price for admission, and you’ll be traveling in Xplor Park’s own comfort bus.

A single day here is one to remember, soaring the trees on over 14 different zip lines covering a massive 2.4 miles (3.9 km) on two circuits. Additionally, with swimming/rafting through caves with stalactites and driving a four-wheel buggy through flooded caves and jungle scenes, it’s a day of excitement!

You can take the hassle out of your visit by booking this organized tour that includes transport from Cancun. Although slightly more expensive, transport is a huge bonus, and shuttles/taxis are not cheap.

If you are a bit more daring, there is also the nighttime version which is sure to be a drastic setting for a lot of the activities like the zip line, ATV, rafting, etc.

Where to Eat in Cancun

Aztec soup from Mextreme in Cancun, Mexico
Photo credit: Mextreme Cancun

Cancun may be known for its late nights, but this party c is no slouch when it comes to offering some super delicious dining. From street food fiestas to oceanview feasts, here in Cancun your tastebuds are in for a wild ride!

Los Chachalacos – $

When those taco-craving hunger pangs (and they happen pretty often!), Los Chachalacos is one of our favorite spots to stop by. They have a HUGE and mouthwatering array of tacos – and I mean mouthwatering!

Los Chachalacos might be pretty hard to say three times, but this local chain really surprised us when we stopped by for the first time. They’ve got some seriously mean taco fillings from carne asada to chorizo, along with veggie options that will tempt even the most diehard carnivores.

Pair the tacos with an ice-cold cerveza, and you’ve got a match made in Mexican food heaven. They’ve got a few locations across Cancun – I personally like their Hotel Zone spot, as it’s also got some pretty great ocean views! Opening times can vary a little bit depending on the location, but generally, Los Chachalacos is open from around 2 am to 2 pm.

Mextreme – $$

If you’re craving authentic Mexican flavors and festive vibes, then Mextreme should definitely be on the menu. This lively Cancun hot spot truly is the perfect spot to get a taste of authentic Mexican food, like Oaxacan mole, sizzling fajitas, and more. Simply grab a seat at the bar on a “bum seat” and sip cervezas before diving into tacos al pastor.

But regulars like us (and soon you!) know that Mextreme’s Aztec soup is the real star of the show. You’ve got to try it!

And when the sun dips down, the Mariachi band tunes up and puts on one heck of a fun show (the wait staff also get their groove on too!). Mextreme is open pretty much all day, from 7:30 am all the way through to 12 am. So, buen provecho!

Divina Carne – $$$

Divina Carne is an upscale Brazilian restaurant that takes luxury dining to a whole new level of deliciousness. From the lavish ambiance down to the smallest details in how the food is prepared, this is the place to be if you’re looking to go all out on a meal that you’ll remember!

Even before you tuck into the main course(s), they have a pretty impressive selection of cuts of filet, ribeye, salads, cheeses, and more at their Divina Bar. Once you’re ready, you can flip the card on the table from red to green, which is when the amazing wait staff will keep the food coming to your table until you’re completely stuffed!

Pro Tip: Save some space for dessert, which is just as good as the meat!

Where to Stay in Cancun

Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Cancun
Photo credit: Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Cancun

If you’re going to be vacationing in Cancun, then you’ll need a place to stay! Below are some of the best hotels (for every budget) in the Cancun Hotel Zone.

Selina Cancun Laguna Hotel Zone – $

For budget travelers, the Selina Cancun Laguna Hotel Zone is one of my personal favorites! While some people online found their stay to be hit-and-miss, I really enjoyed my stay here, plus for the price and fun atmosphere, you really can’t go wrong! It’s also located right in the heart of the Hotel Zone, meaning you’re right where all the action is, and they even have an outdoor pool and a bar.

They offer a range of room types, with a bed in a large dorm starting as low as $24 USD and a standard room at around $97 USD per night. To reserve your spot in advance, you can check out Selina Cancun Laguna over on Hostelworld or Booking.com.

JW Marriott Cancun Resort – $$

For somewhere in the mid-range category, I absolutely love the JW Marriott Cancun Resort. While it’s not all-inclusive, I personally think that’s a plus since you get to explore the wonderful restaurants in Cancun! That said, the hotel has no less than 6 incredible restaurants on-site, so if you’re feeling like a well-deserved evening in, then you’re spoiled for choice.

Talking of pampered evenings (and mornings!), JW Marriott also has a world-class spa offering a host of treatments, as well as three gorgeous pools. Located right on the beachfront, every room in this hotel has a 32-inch flat-panel LCD TV, as well as the softest bedding to rest your head after a busy day out exploring.

Rooms here at the JW Marriott Cancun Resort average between $350-500 USD per night depending on the time of year. To check availability and reserve your room, you can secure your spot over on Booking.com.

Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Cancun – $$$

Of course, we all love a luxury all-inclusive stay and for that, the Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Cancun is among the best of the best. It really is its very own oasis in paradise where you can rest, relax, and try the most delicious food in any of the six fine-dining restaurants, including an AAA Five Diamond french dining experience!

When you fancy going for a dip, there’s a huge outdoor pool which is nothing short of mesmerizing at night when it’s lit up. Seriously, you have to see it for yourself! If that wasn’t enough, Grand Fiesta also boasts a 40,000 sq. ft (3,716 sq. m) full-service spa, with a ton of treatment and massage options. A word of warning though – once you stay here, you’ll never look at luxury the same way again.

Of course, with a luxury hotel comes a luxury price tag, with rooms ranging from $500-800 USD per night depending on the room category and time of year. I’d recommend booking your stay in advance to secure the best rates.

More of a luxury traveler? Learn about the absolute best resorts in Cancun to choose from!

Renting a Car in Mexico

Bailey and Daniel take a selfie while driving around Mexico
A rental car means freedom to go to the beach whenever you want!

Undoubtedly, one of the best ways to get around Mexico is in a rental car. 

I struggled to get around by bus and taxi for the longest time. But after renting a car in Cancun in 2023, I never looked back. It allowed me to explore the country without worrying about tours or taxis. It was why I fell in love with Mexico and eventually decided to live here periodically. 

I refuse to use local services whenever I rent a car in Mexico. The truth is they sometimes can’t be trusted or come with hidden fees (or costly insurance that doesn’t make sense.) There are even rental car scams! So instead, I use Discover Cars, the company most experienced travelers or ex-pats in Mexico recommend. Read my honest review of Discover Cars here for more details!

The rates on Discover Cars are cheap, too, with the average rental costing around $25 USD per day. Full coverage insurance can be added for an extra $10 USD a day too. 

Driving in Mexico also only requires a driver’s license using the Roman alphabet. If yours uses another like Japan and China, you simply need an international driving permit. 

Insurance is required, but if you book with Discover Cars and get the full coverage, that’s all you need! Oh, and being over 18 is required, and if you’re over 25, your rental will be much cheaper! 

Thanks for reading!

Daniel and Bailey take a selfie at the top of the Cancun Scenic Tower 
Thanks for reading!

Cancun is one of the top destinations in Mexico, and with a list of so many fantastic activities, it’s no wonder why. It’s safe to say you won’t get bored when visiting Cancun, and if you do, just enjoy the downtime. Cancun is as much about relaxing as it is about enjoying activities and tours!

Thanks so much for reading! I hope you enjoyed this huge blog on the best things to do in Cancun. If you did, make sure to check out the Cancun Airport shuttles guide so your arrival here is smooth and then keep planning your trip by having a look at our other popular Mexico blogs, such as:

Cancun Airport to the Hotel Zone – 9 Things you NEED to KNOW!

The top restaurants in Cancun

Things to do in Tulum

Best beaches in Mexico

Val

Saturday 9th of March 2024

I am actually doing a project based on a city and country so this was very helpful, thanks!

Don

Monday 20th of November 2023

This was a awesome read ,so much info. Thanks